Showing posts with label digital. Show all posts
Showing posts with label digital. Show all posts

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pros of Using a Surface Pro 3 for Illustration

For years now, I've dreamed of being able to work remotely without having to lug around my laptop and Cintiq.

For a while, I'd been eyeing what seemed to be the top three options for a portable digital work station: the Cintiq Hybrid, the Cintiq Companion and the Surface Pro 3. Getting to try out one of the Wacom options proved to be impossible--I couldn't find one near me to test out. So one day I went to my local Best Buy to see if they had any Surface Pros on display. Luckily they did and I was very impressed! After a few days, my husband surprised me with one for my birthday and I was off to the races.

Now that I've had it for a good four months, it's safe to say I love it!

Specs:
  • Surface Pro 3 Intel i7, 1.7 GHz with 256 GB
  • Screen Resolution: 2160x1440
  • Uploaded Software: Manga Studio 5

Favorite Features:
  1. Compatibility Manga Studio 5 (my illustration preference) is perfectly compatible with this machine. It's interface is made for touchscreen units with the ability to rotate/scroll/pan with your fingertip (see video below). I have seamlessly worked back and forth between the Surface Pro 3 and my iMac/Cintiq using Dropbox to share my files. Also, the line quality and pen pressure in Manga Studio for my Surface Pro 3 is very close to what I get on the Cintiq. After some fooling around, I got the pen pressure on the Surface Pro 3 to match my desktop's Manga Studio pen pressure settings.
  2. Convenience It is super light and the battery lasts a good 6 hour work session without being plugged in. The plug itself is petite and not cumbersome at all. Plugging into an outlet at Starbucks is hassle-free.
  3. Ease of Use Being that I am an Apple person, the Microsoft interface was foreign, but only took a bit of exploring to get used to. Finding apps, saving documents and locating files is pretty straight forward.
  4. PALM REJECTION! I have had no hiccups with the Surface Pro 3 rejecting the palm of my hand when I'm working. No stutters at all. This makes drawing on the Surface Pro 3 about a million times better than my experiences with trying to draw on an iPad.
  5. The Kickstand The kickstand on my Cintiq 12 only locks in to one angle which at times feels too low. The kickstand on the Surface Pro 3 is firm at any angle you want to set it and will not give in to pressure from my arm while drawing. 
  6. The Screen The screen is WAY brighter and clearer than my Wacom Cintiq. The colors also match my desktop WAY better then my Cintiq ever has.
  7. Multitasking I can have one app open on the left hand of the screen and another open on the right simultaneously. It's nice to be able to see the manuscript I'm working on and Manga Studio open on the screen at the same time!
Yes, like any other art tool, it will take a few hours to get used to. But overall, for me, the Surface Pro 3 is the perfect machine for working on the go for final illustrations and/or for sketching. It is snappy and may be faster and stronger than my Macbook pro (which is a few years old now). I've taken it everywhere and (knock on wood) it has been flawless.

Brightness of my working screens: iMac (top), Cintiq 12 (middle), Surface Pro 3 (bottom). The SP3 wins!

 Any lag between stylus and screen? If so, it is teeny tiny.


Rotating, panning, zooming using fingertip control.






Friday, January 31, 2014

Simply Messing About with Mediums

Over here in my head, there is always a debate over traditional vs. digital. Which is more appealing? Which is more fun to make? Which can get me more work? I switch back and forth all the time because my tastes change. My skills, however, differ in both methods. Sometimes I need them to influence each other.

Recently, I was approached to do a color sample in my sketch style and it turned my world around. It makes me ecstatic that this style may eventually be ready for publishing, but I still have a little ways to go. I wanted to show you a little bit of what my process looks like as I try to figure this out.

This sketch is what started me thinking about all of this again.

I've been drawing like crazy in sketchbooks for a little over a year now, and most often my drawings turn out looking like the one above. Recently, I started incorporating Prismacolor colored pencil and Copic marker into my usual pencil and ink brush doodles. My eyes needed to see more color and finish in the sketches I had grown to love making.

But that Alligator and Armadillo tea party got me excited, so I took it to Photoshop to color it as fast as possible. Why? Because my skills in Photoshop currently surmount my Paper skills...it's a crutch.

I liked this color, but it didn't have the same energy, so I left it as is...

In this particular case I was happy with the colors I chose, but it still wasn't working for me. I went back to the drawing board...quite literally.

That's better, but still not quite right.

But, I was missing the vibrancy and saturation. I know that it's possible to attain this with watercolor, but I haven't figured out how to get there yet. Then, I remembered the gouache set I got for Christmas and started to play again with yet, another new medium.

I started with a gouache warm up.

And this is where I landed.

My goal for what I post on the Simply Messing About blog was always to document my journey back into traditional painting...that's it. But with this particular project, I hit on an important fact, that it's ok to jump back and forth always letting digital influence traditional and vice versa. And sometimes, they work really well – together.

I added a background color to this gouache painting...digitally.

Until next time!
~Renee



Friday, May 31, 2013

Manga Studio 5 Part 2- Painting Demo and Custom Brushes

Here's my second video about how I use Manga Studio 5 for digital illustration.
It's a bit long and rambly but I talk a more about how I use certain features, a bit about art in general, and a look at how I make custom brushes in MS5.



Manga Studio 5 Painting and Custom Brushes demo by Tracy Bishop from Tracy Bishop on Vimeo.

Link:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quick tour of Manga Studio 5

For the past year I've been using Manga Studio 5, an $80 program from SmithMicro, as my primary tool for digital painting. I still use Photoshop for certain things but for the most part, the bulk of the work is done in MS5.

Why did I switch to Manga Studio 5? In a nutshell- it's because it's a speedy program with powerful features made just for digital artists.

The video below will give you a basic tour of what Manga Studio 5 looks like and what features I use and find the most helpful for digital illustration.

 The main idea I want to convey is that this is not a scary program to learn. There are a lot of similarities with Photoshop. Have fun and the only way to learn is just to dive in and mess around.

 Next week I will post a demo video of me actually painting something in Manga Studio 5. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or find me on twitter @TracyBishopArt.


Quick Tour of Manga Studio 5 from Tracy Bishop on Vimeo.

Resources:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quick Photoshop Painting Demo (with music)!

There are many different ways I paint in Photoshop, but this video demonstrates the technique I've used to paint FAST. I recently finished a project on a super tight deadline and I knew I had to figure out a way to paint faster in order to get everything done on time. So, I went back to basics: employing line, value and local color!

The video below started with a random sketch on a random piece of paper floating around on my desk. In real time, the painting took about 15 minutes but it's been condensed down to about four minutes here!


Since the video goes by at lightning speed, here are some useful tips for the basic layer setup I used:

  • The final line layer is set to MULTIPLY and is on top of everything else
  • The value layer comes next and is also set to MULTIPLY. It is important that you work out your values here in order to eliminate worrying about that in your color layer
  • The next layer is your local color layer set to NORMAL. Since your values are worked out in the above layer, all you have to do here is paint your flat (or local) colors in. Your values already show through!
  • Lastly, you can do a layer above everything else with your highlights.
  • I left my line visible, but if you push your value layer and really work out your lights and darks, you can completely get rid of the line layer.

That's it! Set it and forget it! Here's a piece I did using this technique. Until next time! :)

From "Goodnight Baseball" (Capstone, 2013)


Monday, April 29, 2013

From Sketchbook to Screen: Color

In my last post, I detailed how to get your scanned sketch to a workable level in Photoshop. This will be sort of a continuation of that, but in color

I recorded a demo of myself painting the sketch below and, though it was intended to be only 10 minutes long, I ended up going on and on for about a half hour! I don't expect that everyone would want to watch that, so I sped it up to 3 minutes and added a Huey Lewis tune! WIN.

In the long version of the demo, I show how to use levels, multiply layers, and use brushes to get a softer look. In this shorter version, you really just see some color decisions fly by!


Sketchbook Painting Demo (3min) from Renee Kurilla on Vimeo.


Here are some of the brushes I use:

Useful tips mentioned in the long version:

  • To quickly change the line color of your sketch, select the line and hit CMD+U (Hue/Saturation), check the "colorize box"
  • If you paint with the pencil tool instead of the brush tool, the autofill is MUCH better.
  • Layer Lock: Lock Transparent Pixels is AWESOME. 
  • You can also use Blending Modes on a layer above your sketch to colorize your line, but it effects all colors underneath the layer as well. 

Learning Curve:
Even though the long version is 30 minutes, if I were painting this for a paying job I'd definitely spend another few hours finessing details. I think spending those few minutes ahead of time colorizing your lines is worthwhile.
If I had known I'd end up colorizing this sketch, I might reconsider how much pencil shading I add. I found as I was coloring that it was very difficult to select sections to "colorize" because of the thick shadows. The shading also makes some parts of the piece very dark (her shirt, hair, the little bear nook).

Noteworthy: Someone who really has this technique down is UK based illustrator, Alex T. Smith. His work is phenomenal and lively, so talented! His latest blog post actually shows a before and after pencil sketch turned color.

You know what the real secret ingredient to all of this is... (drumroll please)

Patience.

-------

*If you'd like to watch the long version of my demo in which I say "Umm." 2,000,345 times and immediately go back on my promise to label all my layers, I've made it available on my Vimeo page, here. :)

Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to comment below and ask questions!

Cheers!
~Renee

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nuts and Bolts: My Photoshop and Wacom Setup

Lately I've been doing a lot of experimenting with actual paints and brushes, but for the past six or so years, I've been completing all my projects using Photoshop CS4.

Over the years, I've figured out a system using Wacom's programmable ExpressKeys, Touch Strip and Radial Menu that helps me paint quickly and efficiently.  Using these programmable keys along with a specific Photoshop window arrangement allows for faster painting...get those deadlines done!

First things first, I'm working on a two or three year old iMac 23" and a Wacom Cintiq 12wx (the ExpressKeys are also available on the Wacom Intuos 3's, 4's and 5's too). Below the video, I've included diagrams of how I've set my Wacom Cintiq's programmable options. Remember, the programmable keys come on the Intuos tablets as well, so if you don't have a Cintiq, all is not lost!




Wacom's ExpressKeys
The Cintiq and Intuos tablets come with programmable keys located on both sides of the tablet. I've disabled the ExpressKeys on the left of my tablet being that I'm left-handed and it's just too much of an inconvenience to use while I'm trying to paint! There is a slight difference in how the keys are set up depending on how old your tablet is, and here is how mine are set up. The letters/symbols in parenthesis are the keyboard shortcuts I used to program the functions into the HotKeys in my Wacom preferences.



Wacom's Radial Menu
In Wacom's preferences menu (under Apple's System Preferences), you can find the options for customizing your Radial Menu. Here's a close-up version of how mine are programmed:



Screen Setup:
The most thing for me here is to have a smaller version of my current painting file open so that I can see  the image as a whole. To do this, go to 'Window' on the menu bar, drop down to 'Arrange' and then select 'New window for ....". Having this smaller window open is a huge help and is very similar to stepping away from your canvas or squinting so that you can see how your painting is coming together in terms of warms/cools, lights/darks, etc.

I hope you enjoyed! By the way, I'm sure we'd all love to hear some cool tips and tricks that you've put into place regarding your tablet and Photoshop! Let us know your favorites!

~christina